Ultimate Guide - Can You Paint in Cold Weather?

Nothing renews a building or project like a new coat of paint, but when is the best time to do it? Spring and summer are ideal seasons for revamping a home with a new coat. That’s because the paint contains pigments that can evaporate or deteriorate when the temperature is too low.

Can you paint in cold weather? Yes, you can if you’re careful about using the right tools at the proper times. Let’s discuss why cold weather painting is a risk, why you should be cautious, and how best to tackle the challenge.

How Does Cold Weather Affect Paint?

To answer whether you can paint outside in cold weather, let’s see how icy temperatures affect pigments.

Exterior paint takes about 48 hours to fully cure. For the first two to four hours, it will form a protective layer against the weather. However, if the paint is interrupted before that film forms, it can ruin the quality and sheen.

Cold temperatures allow dew and moisture to collect on surfaces. If the ambient weather gets too chilly for the paint to withstand, the water within it won’t evaporate quickly. That has drastic long-term implications, as the pigments will be more susceptible to mold, mildew, cracking, and staining. Some types, such as oil-based paint, are more resistant than others.

To preserve the exterior paint sheen and quality, consult the label on the container. It will warn you about temperatures too cold for use. We generally start to paint around the weather from January but you’ll often see no issues even in December. By February to early March, temperatures should not pose issues for painting.

However, if you must give your house a new coat during cold weather, there are some strategies you can use to minimize the risks.

How To Paint in Cold Weather: Tips and Tricks

The first crucial tip is understanding the difference between ambient and surface temperatures. Even if the weather feels temperate, don’t try to paint on a surface colder than 40 degrees Fahrenheit. If you do, your layers might crack, incurring expensive exterior painting costs. It may also have an inconsistent sheen and areas that look flat.

Paint must endure its 4-hour drying period without the temperatures dropping below the level on the label. Even if it’s warm when you want to apply the coat, it could become too cold overnight. Paint at a time when the temperature will be high enough for the full 4-hour drying period.

Some paint types are more resilient to freezing than others. Acrylic latex is fairly frost-resistant despite having water molecules. Alkyd paints are water-free, generally tolerating colder weather. Most jobs require two coats of paint, so remember that when picking the proper materials and timeframe.

How Cold is Too Cold To Paint?

The low temperatures your paint can tolerate vary by type.

Latex paints are the least cold-resistant type. They contain a fair percentage of water, so you should not apply them to surfaces below forty degrees. Otherwise, the moisture in the paint might freeze and deteriorate.

Acrylic paints combine several components for a little more cold resistance. Temperature recommendations for this type vary. Generally, they can withstand surfaces as cold as thirty-five degrees Fahrenheit.

In the coldest regions, your best bet is epoxy, urethane, alkyl, or oil-based paints. Epoxy and urethane can tolerate temperatures as low as twenty degrees. Both are highly moisture resistant in exchange for being more expensive.

In Kansas City, acrylic latex paints work wonderfully. Remember to monitor the weather and plan carefully for the best day.

What Cold Weather Paints are Best?

We at Great Plains Painting proudly use Sherwin-Williams products to meet customers’ needs.

We use Sherwin-Williams SuperPaint for most jobs, but when we need cold-tolerant materials, we recommend Duration. Duration is a moderate acrylic latex paint that withstands temperatures as low as thirty-five degrees Fahrenheit. It’s a 7-mil thick material, packing the protection your exterior needs.

If you need paint that withstands below thirty-five degrees and you can’t wait until warmer weather, we recommend seeking an epoxy or urethane mix.

Exterior Paint vs. Interior Paint During Cold Weather

When comparing exterior paint versus interior paint during cold weather, it may seem like an indoor paint job won’t suffer any issues. However, that is not the case, as colder temperatures can still complicate the process. Thankfully, there are also benefits to interior painting during the winter.

Remember that surface temperatures matter just as much as ambient temps. If you’re applying paint to an interior surface that is too cold, it may have an inconsistent sheen because it didn’t create a proper film. Materials like stone and metal are more likely to cool down overnight, so account for that when you paint indoors.

Interior paint has one major advantage during cold weather. In general, winter has lower humidity levels than other seasons, meaning that moisture is less likely to disrupt your drying paint. As a nice bonus, interior paint dries faster during cold weather.

I Need Help With My Painting Project. What Should I Do?

Exterior painting during cold weather by yourself can be difficult. You have to assess drying times, the air temperature, and the feel of your surface. If you make a mistake, it could let moisture accumulate, causing cracked paint or uneven finishes. Ultimately, if you aren’t confident and experienced, exterior painting during winter may not be worth the risk.

You could try asking a local handyman or a helpful neighbor, but professional painters know the intricacies of revamping exteriors during the winter. At Great Plains, we know all about Kansas and Missouri’s coldest seasons and their difficulties. As experienced professionals, we’ll help you paint your home or get it ready for sale or rental.

If your home or project needs a new exterior paint color, contact us at Great Plains Painting in Kansas City. While some tasks might fare better in cold weather, others will need a professional’s help to achieve them. That’s why we help you review your options so you have the tools, service, and know-how to get the job done.

Can you paint in cold weather? With our help, you definitely can. Great Plains can help with exterior painting in KC and the surrounding area. Receiving a quote is completely free, so call us and get a free estimate today.